La Liga Betting: Messi Uncertainty Could Lead To A Nervy Camp Nou

Atletico Madrid 1.42, Draw 4.40, Malaga 8.50 – Saturday 15.00 GMT

Atletico are without regular centre-half Miranda, who picked up a hamstring injury with Brazil last week. The loss is on first glance a blow for Colchoneros coach Diego Simeone, however the 30-year-old’s form had not been great, and he was poor in the 2-1 win at Real Sociedad before the international break.

Likely replacement Jose Maria Gimenez is already a full Uruguay international with World Cup experience at 19, and has the confidence of Simeone. The Argentine coach could also bring back in Antoine Griezmann to partner Mario Mandzukic in attack.

Malaga travel up having won their last five La Liga games, with a young new-look side having quickly clicked under this season’s coach Javi Gracia and risen to sixth in the table [just two points behind Atletico]. Los Boquerones are still without defenders Sergio Sanchez and Vitorino Antunes. Morocco attacker Nordin Amrabat tore a muscle on international duty and is a much bigger loss.

Despite some slip-ups away over recent weeks, Atletico are still excellent at home, and have been in front at both half time and full time in their last three at the Calderon in La Liga. A relatively kind set of fixtures helped Malaga to climb the table but, especially with key man Amrabat missing, their recent run should end here.

Prediction: Atletico 2-0 Malaga at 6.75

Best bet: Atletico to again be ahead at the break and see out the win is 2.05.


Eibar 15.00, Draw 7.25, Real Madrid 1.19 - Saturday 17.00 GMT

Table-toppers Real Madrid make a first ever La Liga trip to tiny Eibar, with the Spanish media angle all about the super-rich galacticos visiting the relatively pauperish village side.

There is a certain amount of truth to this narrative - with Madrid’s 500 million euro plus budget put alongside Eibar’s 18 million euro a year. The Basque club have been overperforming so far this season however, and they’re currently 10th in the table. Madrid also drew on their only previous game at Ipurua, a 1-1 Copa del Rey early round tie in January 2004 in which a young Iker Casillas impressed. The home fans will also surely be delighted to give Casillas, Cristiano Ronaldo and company a warm welcome.

Blancos coach Carlo Ancelotti’s biggest selection issue is how to replace the injured Luka Modric in central midfield. Isco impressed when scoring a cracker for Spain on international duty last weekend and is an exciting attacking option. Germany World Cup winner Sami Khedira proved his fitness with his country, and would be a more cautious choice.

Eibar have been tough to beat at home [just one defeat] so far, but they’ve also had trouble winning in front of their own supporters [just once, on the opening day]. Meanwhile Madrid’s 5-1 home stroll past Rayo Vallecano before the international break took their run of consecutive victories in all competitions to 13.

This will probably not be quite such a handy three points for the league leaders, but it’s hard to see anything other than a 14th win on the trot for Ancelotti’s men.

Prediction: Eibar 0-2 Real Madrid at 7.50

Best bet: International exertions and Modric out cut mean less fluency to Madrid’s play. So maybe under 3.5 total goals at 1.80


Barcelona 1.22, Draw 7.00, Sevilla 12.00 – Saturday 19.00 GMT

Barcelona went into the international break in pretty close to crisis mode, with Luis Suarez coming off the bench to spark a turnaround 2-1 win at Almeria, and avoid a third consecutive La Liga loss.

Then Lionel Messi spoke from the Argentina camp about being unsure of his future at the Camp Nou, adding yet another issue for under fire coach Luis Enrique and president Josep Maria Bartomeu to deal with.

Sevilla travel to the Catalonia having also stumbled slightly in La Liga, taking just one point from their last two games, having briefly topped the table a few weeks back. The Andalucians do not have a great record in this fixture, with just one draw from their last ten visits. That stat though is slightly misleading, as Messi missed a penalty in a 0-0 in 2011/12 and Unai Emery’s side were very, very unlucky to lose 3-2 last season.

Predicting Luis Enrique’s starting XI is never easy, but summer signing Ivan Rakitic looks sure to play against his old team. Recently-sidelined Jeremy Mathieu and Rafinha have been declared fit again by the club, while Luis Enrique told his pre-game press confrence that Andres Iniesta was close to a return after a month out with a calf problem..

Emery could also give on-loan youngsters Denis Suarez and Gerard Deulofeu a chance to impress against their parent club. Elsewhere Sevilla’s side is likely to feature plenty of big men, with midfielders Stephane M’Bia and Grzegorz Krychowiak a potential threat at set-pieces.

A lot will depend on the mood of the blaugrana players and fans. If Messi looks distracted, and Sevilla start well, crowd disquiet is likely. Barca should really win, but might need some more solo magic from Suarez or Neymar to do so.

Prediction: Barca 2-1 Sevilla at 9.00

Best bet: Sevilla to get a draw in the market starting 1-0 to them [i.e. bet pays if they lose by just one goal] could come off at big odds of 4.10